Coal-heaver, yeoman, caulker: your almanac

is a book of lack, of wanting, of disruption;
its index made of trails and backroads
cutting through fields of cane and red earth
to shantytowns whose roofs have the glint of well-
thumbed coins in moonlight— Here at the wharf
are all who answered summons tacked on storefronts
and windows of laundromats, advertising labor
in the bowels of the earth or on galleons
bound for kingdoms raised on the backs
of slaves. Henceforth every cube of sugar,
every pannier of traded goods is carried
first upon your shoulders: cotton, iron,
wood; hemp and paper, even the ink
with which the bill of lading’s writ.

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